ALVARADO -- The 26-year-old mother with a brain tumor, who had been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for 15 months, was released Thursday afternoon.
"I want to thank Amnesty International activists taking action on my behalf,” said Sara Hernandez. “I truly appreciate your support, and your actions made a difference. Because of you, I can now get the medical care I need and be reunited with my family. Thank you."
Hernandez spoke briefly to reporters in Spanish after her attorney picked her up around 3 p.m. from the ICE facility in Johnson County.
Hernandez made national headlines last month after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor at a local hospital, but was then suddenly returned to detention in Alvarado. She had been there since late 2015 after trying to enter the U.S. illegally from El Salvador, saying she feared for her safety.
Hernandez's family and attorneys secured a $15,000 bond after an immigration judge ruled she could be released earlier in the day.
"This evening, Sara is getting a full medical evaluation to ensure that it’s safe for her travel to New York to be with her family and get the long-term care she needs,” said Eric Ferrero, spokesperson for Amnesty International USA. “We hope some good can come out of Sara’s nightmarish ordeal, and the federal government will change its policies and stop putting people with asylum claims in detention this way. People fleeing horrific violence to seek asylum in the U.S. should be treated with dignity and compassion, not treated like criminals.”
After seeing a local doctor, Hernandez is expected to reunite with her family in New York, perhaps arriving as early as Thursday night or Friday morning.
Amnesty International says Hernandez will be able to live with her family in New York while her "asylum claim is processed."